No study has been conducted about it yet, nor have statistics been compiled. But there are enough Muslims out there afraid of showing their Islam nowadays than we'd like to admit.
Whether it's changing names (i.e. Muhammad to Mo), taking off Hijabs, or not admitting that one is fasting, the desire to hide Islam has grown and is getting worse.
But Ramadan, a time of spiritual growth and renewed commitment to God, is an ideal time to turn this around. This year, let's make a special effort to share our Ramadan with our non-Muslim friends, neighbors, classmates, and coworkers. Let them know about Ramadan in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. These methods may initially feel uncomfortable, but apart from the Dawa opportunities they present, they are a way for us to regain our pride in Islam.
If you and your classmates or coworkers regularly eat lunch together, don't tell them you've decided to go the gym or library for the next month, which is why you won't be dining with them. Tell them the truth: you're fasting because it's Ramadan. It might be hard to do initially, and somewhat uncomfortable if you normally keep your Islam to yourself, but once it's out in the open, be willing to answer any questions about it.
Also, don't forget to invite them to your meal later in the day: Iftar.
Put these great decorations up not only on your front and back doors, but also in your cubicle or your locker at school. If the space is too small, make your own sign or have your kids come up with one that will fit.
If you normally buy lunch at the cafeteria, don't just buy your food at lunch to eat it cold at Iftar time. Politely ask the staff if it's possible to keep a meal aside for you because you're fasting and will need the food a couple of hours later. Then explain what Ramadan is. If that's not possible, try to work out some reasonable accommodation.
Your campus newspaper or company newsletter are great soapboxes to show your Ramadan. You can write a lighthearted article about fasting in these publications, or send a Ramadan greeting wishing all peace and happiness, for instance.
Start your own weblog or webpage on Ramadan and email others about it. While there are thousands of weblogs, yours will be special if you personalize it without giving away too much information. Instead of focusing, for instance, on the do's and don'ts of Ramadan (as most Islamic websites do), talk about what Ramadan means to you personally, post recipes, top ten lists, and other stuff that will make your weblog or page unique.
Most news sites like CNN have probably already put up at least one article about Ramadan. If this option is there, post a comment in response, wishing all Ramadan Mubarak with a link to your Ramadan website or webpage or one you regularly visit.
Use a quote about Ramadan as your signature on the emails you send out this month. It can be something by a scholar, a celebrity, or a short joke. Include a link to a page or site on Ramadan.
If you've got an assignment due during Ramadan, try to do it on some aspect of the blessed month. For instance, for a political science class, you can discuss the politicization of Ramadan in world conflicts; for economics or a debate class you can discuss the question: is Ramadan becoming too commercial?; for a health class, you can talk about how diabetes patients manage to fast in Ramadan. Or of course, you could just do a straightforward presentation on the month.
Remember that piece of birthday cake your neighbor sent from her kid's party? Well, now it's time to return the favor by sending something to commemorate Ramadan.
If you know how to make an ethnic dish, send it with a Ramadan greeting and the recipe to your neighbor. Or you could send something more attuned to local culinary tastes, such as chocolate cake or some other dish your family enjoys eating at Iftar. Explain to your neighbor when you hand it over why you're giving it (it's Ramadan) and that you wanted to share the blessings.
- Don't give the wrong reason for not eating
- Hang up a Ramadan banner and balloons
- Talk to the cafeteria people about it
- Write about it
- Start a weblog or a webpage
- Post messages about it on the sites you visit
- Put a signature on your email about it
- Do a class presentation or paper about Ramadan
- Share a meal with neighbors
- Get your local library or bookstore to feature a display
Last year, a major bookstore in downtown Chicago featured displays of Christmas and Hannukah, but nothing on Ramadan, although the blessed month was in full swing at the time.
If you notice something similar thisyear, express your concerns. Contact the person in charge and ask why Ramadan is being ignored, despite the fact that Muslims are a major market of potential consumers (7 million) and even big companies like Hallmark are now acknowledging the holiday (Hallmark now sells Eid cards).
Photo Attribution: - Dcubillas - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Golden_Crescent_Moon.jpg